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Author Topic: Building Up Steam  (Read 1209 times)

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Bal

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Building Up Steam
« on: September 24, 2013, 02:04:27 PM »

Maybe just something to boot for gaming, but they seem serious about making that work. Which means real ass driver support at the very least.
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sei

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Re: Re: I Don't Do Windows
« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2013, 03:36:59 PM »

I hope this doesn't mean they're never fixing their half-baked windows support for the interface that thing will likely be running.

EDIT: Apparently this response was unclear.

I am monstrously bitter that:
1) Big Picture Mode (BPM) doesn't let me specify an audio output for the program and related games, even if it's just an implementation that temporarily switches the default audio out device.
2) BPM fucks up my monitor layout, doing things like this:


The undertone was that if they focus on SteamOS, they'll be even less likely to fix shit like this. I realize that undertone is false, and also a little stupid. But, well, still bitter.
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Brentai

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Re: Re: I Don't Do Windows
« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2013, 04:58:23 PM »

If they're releasing their own operating system I wouldn't hold out a lot of hope that they're going to prioritize compatibility with Microsoft products.
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sei

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Re: Re: I Don't Do Windows
« Reply #3 on: September 24, 2013, 07:38:20 PM »

Probably separate teams*. Fingers crossed. Even if Linux is the future for Steam, there's a still lots of money in the Windows-install-base albatross keeping them from jumping ship entirely. For now.



*Jokes about Valve's personnel organization scheme in 3, 2, 1...
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Brentai

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Re: Re: I Don't Do Windows
« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2013, 07:52:41 PM »

There's a huge divide between what that handbook implies (that everyone's going to naturally reorg themselves into a best-fit position) and what can be observed (noticeable drop in maintenance capability in assumedly less valuable products over time, and in some cases noticeable increase in maintenance capability when the same products start generating new value).
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Thad

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Re: Re: I Don't Do Windows
« Reply #5 on: September 26, 2013, 03:14:37 PM »

I've got a whole blog post planned about this, but the gist is:

Valve's not a company that stands to benefit most from walling off its shit (like Apple), it's a company that stands to benefit most by making it compatible with as much different hardware and software as possible (like Google).

There was an article on Ars the other day suggesting that Valve could totally get people to switch to Linux en masse if it made Half-Life 3 a Linux exclusive.

Which is sort of true, but a pretty ridiculous premise for any number of reasons.  As one commenter pointed out, most people wouldn't REALLY switch to Linux, they'd just have an install that they would use exclusively for playing games (AKA the exact obnoxious situation that Linux users who like to play games currently have to put up with vis-a-vis Windows).  It's really not in Valve's interest; the gains in userbase on its own OS wouldn't offset the lost business from people who just want to play their damn games on Windows.

I don't see Valve ditching or dilluting support for Windows, or PlayStation, or what-have-you, any time soon.

What I DO this doing, though, is convincing a lot more major developers to port their shit to Linux.  Which is good for me, because it brings me one step closer to my lifelong dream of not fucking dual-booting Windows anymore.
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Bal

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Building Up Steam
« Reply #6 on: September 27, 2013, 04:18:20 AM »

It was a Steam controller. The actual design is bananas, but if it works as advertised, potentially amazing.
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Defenestration

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Re: Building Up Steam
« Reply #7 on: September 27, 2013, 05:25:03 AM »

Also as discussed elsewhere, the first real controller innovation in a couple decades.
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Mongrel

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Re: Building Up Steam
« Reply #8 on: September 27, 2013, 05:29:16 AM »

Also as discussed elsewhere, the first real controller innovation in a couple decades.

Yeah, this is actually what caught my eye. This is a genuine input change.
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Thad

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Re: Building Up Steam
« Reply #9 on: September 27, 2013, 05:06:21 PM »

Also as discussed elsewhere, the first real controller innovation in a couple decades.

The trouble with calling anything the first of anything is that people's first instinct is to laser-focus on whether or not it's technically true instead of actually discussing the point of the statement.

I think there've been some pretty major controller innovations in the past twenty years, but this makes for a legitimate surprise.  I don't know how it'll play, but I'm damned curious to find out, and I love that it's hacker-friendly.
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Büge

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Re: Building Up Steam
« Reply #10 on: September 27, 2013, 10:35:19 PM »

None of them look like Dark Helmet from Spaceballs, though.
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Defenestration

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Re: Building Up Steam
« Reply #11 on: September 27, 2013, 11:17:44 PM »

Post of a non-valve employee that had a hands-on with a proto of the Steam controller. Specifically Tommy, the guy who programmed Super Meat Boy.
http://tommyrefenes.tumblr.com/post/62476523677/my-time-with-the-steam-controller

Also as discussed elsewhere, the first real controller innovation in a couple decades.
After a bit of thought, I will revoke this statement. I think that the DS and (grudgingly admit) the Wii did a few unique things.
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Thad

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Re: Building Up Steam
« Reply #12 on: September 29, 2013, 05:51:43 AM »

The N64 standardized the analog stick less than 20 years ago, and the Dual Shock made it practical.  Apple's been pretty far out ahead on making multitouch gestures that are a lot more complex than click and drag (even if those efforts aren't primarily directed at games), and the Kinect's got real potential even if we haven't seen much of it realized yet.

On-topic: the first thought I had was that those touchpads simply aren't going to have the precision of a stick.  After reading up on their research for haptic feedback, I'm really curious to see what they come up with.  I'm still inclined to think they'll be a poor match for fighting games and 2D platformers, but I can see them working with damn near any other genre, retro games and all -- I don't see any reason, for example, why it wouldn't work well with Mario Kart or SM64.

Ooh, and that's another thing to keep in mind about SteamOS -- it's Linux, so there's bound to be a way to get emulators to run on it.  And might finally be the goose developers need to start slapping some decent GUI's on top of them.  (Linux probably has just about as much variety in emulators as Windows does, but a lot of them don't have frontends and are instead operated by command line flags, rc files, and keypresses that you're not going to know without poring over a readme.  And can you fucking believe snes9x isn't even in the Ubuntu repos?)

And of course the nice thing about the hardware being open and hackable is that there'll be plenty of variations that include sticks and D-pads, so there's no reason to worry about that.
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sei

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Re: Building Up Steam
« Reply #13 on: September 29, 2013, 01:10:05 PM »

And of course the nice thing about the hardware being open and hackable is that there'll be plenty of variations that include sticks and D-pads, so there's no reason to worry about that.
I like that it's hackable, but we'll see whether the current form factor supports modders comfortably jamming dual analogs, a dpad, and 4 additional face buttons on the thing.

I don't personally need the Steam controller to ape my dual shock or xbox controllers, for home use.

I do see it as being the something of a holy grail for people who want to buy just one damned controller period, or people who want to take one controller with them when traveling or commuting.
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Defenestration

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Re: Building Up Steam
« Reply #14 on: September 29, 2013, 08:16:30 PM »

Well, you'd still need to pack your fightstick.

Anyway, if you've been reading feedback from people who've held them the whole thing about the pads is allegedly that you don't NEED to feel specific buttons, the Haptic does that. I'm more than a bit cautious, though. It sounds literally fucking magic; I don't see how they can get this shit to work and have it be reasonably priced.
Quote
“It’s tough to grok the touch feedback until you try it out,” he said in an e-mail. “You pick it up, and, for the first few minutes, you’re mostly just moving your thumbs over the trackpads and marveling at what you’re feeling.”

Lambe had played a first-person shooter with Valve’s new device. It seems that the haptic feedback of the trackpads made a big impression. The idea of that feedback is that it’s supposed to create the feeling that the trackpad has edges on it, perhaps the outlines of buttons, if that’s how it is programmed for a specific game. Those trackpads are sensitive to movement and pressure.

“This sounds weird, but it’s almost like rolling two weighted trackballs that are too large to actually fit into the controller,” Lambe said as he tried to explain what it’s like to have one’s thumbs on those two trackpads. “For camera controls, slide one thumb to the right, and you’ll feel this ticking, like you’re turning a physical control. Flick your thumb quickly, and this imaginary physical thing reacts like something with weight to it — the ‘trackball’ continues to roll for a bit, eventually coming to a rest. And since it’s all controlled through the software, the same trackpad then becomes more like a mouse or a laptop trackpad when you’re navigating through menus. Dynamic!”

I received similar positive impressions of the controller’s haptic feedback from Klei‘s Jamie Cheng who had not gone hands-on with the controller but whose colleague had. “He told us that the controller haptic feedback was uncanny,” Cheng said, “and that using the trackpad really did feel like pressing buttons.”
Source via Gizmodo to kinda sorta avoid linking Kotaku
http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2013/09/valve-steam-controller-hands-on-unusually-promising/

Other links to people who've fucked with the controller
http://gamasutra.com/view/news/201195/Select_game_developers_used_the_Steam_Controller_Heres_what_they_said.php
http://www.engadget.com/2013/09/28/steam-controller-dev-reactions/
http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/128253-Developers-Steam-Controller-Doesnt-Feel-Like-a-Trackpad
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sei

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Re: Building Up Steam
« Reply #15 on: September 30, 2013, 09:02:59 AM »

I'm a pad warrior.

And damn, that's a pretty awesome fucking quote. I'm getting excited.
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Thad

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Re: Building Up Steam
« Reply #16 on: October 12, 2013, 09:34:42 AM »

So, about 7 years ago I hit the point where I found Ubuntu providing better driver support for my hardware than Windows.

And today, I found that the Steam client and Brutal Legend work better under Mint than Windows -- I've had showstopping graphical glitches in the Windows version, and neither the game itself nor the wrapper in Steam's Big Picture recognize my Rumblepad 2 correctly.

The Linux version recognizes my pad just fine and I haven't seen any graphical issues.

Of course, I alt-tabbed into Firefox to talk about this and my system promptly restarted itself, so there are still some bugs to work out.  But god damn, I really do think we're at an important moment in PC gaming right here.
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Thad

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Re: Building Up Steam
« Reply #17 on: October 12, 2013, 05:56:42 PM »

The N64 standardized the analog stick less than 20 years ago, and the Dual Shock made it practical.  Apple's been pretty far out ahead on making multitouch gestures that are a lot more complex than click and drag (even if those efforts aren't primarily directed at games), and the Kinect's got real potential even if we haven't seen much of it realized yet.

I thought of another one:

The utility of the Dreamcast's trigger-style shoulder buttons wasn't really obvious during that console's short lifespan or the rest of its generation, but it's difficult for me to play a shooter with face buttons now.  I believe Gears of War was the game that introduced the now-standard triggers-as-primary-attack-buttons scheme, which the Steam controller sure looks to be running with.

Anyhow, there's a demo video now:

Steam Controller Demonstration

Ars has comments; they don't really add anything, but if you don't have five minutes to watch the video they make for a good quick summary.
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Bal

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Re: Building Up Steam
« Reply #18 on: October 12, 2013, 08:12:25 PM »

Halo did the triggers-as-attacks thing, and the analogue nature of the triggers was first recognized during the dreamcast era as being perfect for racing games, which has been their use ever since.
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Thad

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Re: Building Up Steam
« Reply #19 on: January 07, 2014, 03:09:13 PM »

Kyle Orland tries the controller; his feelings on it are split, literally down the middle.

He says the mouse emulation of the right pad is fantastic but the WASD emulation on the left one is lousy.  He notes that he didn't get a chance to try it with games designed for analog movement, and that it's quite possible it'll work better with them.

Pretty much what I expected, really, and I think it sounds plenty promising.  And remember, it's supposed to be mod-friendly; I wouldn't be surprised to see third-party versions with D-pads on them.
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